Explore The Must-Visit Ruins Sites Of South America: When you talk of ancient ruins, then anyone might think of places like Rome and Athens.
And when these places can be at the top of the destination list to see the ruins, then there is another place that holds many secrets and intrigue amid its ruins … South America.
It’s not hidden that South America has an abundance of history and culture to explore when traveling there. And a part of that history lies in the remains spread all over the continent.
In Ecuador, there are many options to choose from when looking for ancient ruins in South America, from Incan cities of Peru kept alive in the temples built to worship the Sun.
Finding these ruins is also an ideal choice for those travelers who are adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts since many of these sites have to be hiked to.
So where you will find some of the best ruins cities in South America? Let’s take a look at some of the most visited and important places to tell about the history of South America.
1. Tiwanaku – Tiwanaku Village, Bolivia
Bolivia may not list high in the given places to visit for potential ruins, but Tiwanaku is definitely worth checking out in this Central South American country. It’s one of the best travel destinations in regards of ancient ruins.
This site is a pre-Columbian city that comes back to the Tiwanaku Kingdom, which lasted from 300 BC until 300 AD. It was once the capital of the empire and it was abandoned after the Spanish arrived in Bolivia.
On visiting this site, you will come to see the ruins of the ancient city as well as about one hundred huge stones weighing approximately 100 tonnes. Some of the stones have been cut, squared, and jagged, and may have been for building or ritual purposes.
- The entrance fee for foreigners is 80 Bs ($12 US), which includes 4 sites.
- The cost of an English speaking guide is approx. 160 Bs ($23 US).
Timings: 9:00 to 17:00
Best Time To Visit: April-May-June August
2. Chan Chan – Trujillo, Peru
Peru is a gold mine when ruins come in the picture, and Chan Chan is no exception. It was the site of the largest pre-Columbian city in America under the Chimor empire.
This empire gives a pre-dates the Incan empire, which ultimately conquered it later on. Chan Chan is said to the site that had been established around 850 AD.
Chan Chan is being declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The city was full of temples, palaces, and passageways.
Since then the ruins have seen widespread wear and tear due to elements, but it is still an attractive place, especially if you plan to visit ruins in Peru.
Entry Charges: The entrance to Chan Chan is 11 soles and a guide will cost you another 30-35 soles.
Timings: Every day from 9 am–4 pm except on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday – Hours might differ.
3. Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) – Santa Marta, Columbia
The Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) established around 800 AD, this ancient site pre-dates Machu Picchu, and was one of the most advanced cities to blossom in South America.
It was an economic center of the region and was built to maintain the growth of the city and the importance within the empire.
The Lost City trek is one of its kind! From Santa Marta, it’s about a three day’s hike and is located deep within the Columbian jungle. But what’s worth is the trek to these ruins.
Paved roads, terraces, and circular plazas can be discovered amongst the ruins. The city itself is a collection of architectural achievement. Even to go to the city, you have to climb up to 1,200 stairs!
Entry Charges: Starts from $300 for the basic four-day trek package.
Best Time To Visit: November and March
4. Choquequirao – Abancay, Peru
This ancient mountain city has impressive views and it is second only to the famous Machu Picchu when it comes to the most visited sites in Peru. Remember that it will be a challenging task getting to this ruins site.
This is a two day, steep trek. But the ruins and views you’ll come across will definitely fabricate for a long trek.
Choquequirao is kind of a youth city according to ancient ruins standards. It was founded in 1536 and was used as a stronghold for the Spanish.
There are a lot of things being intact here and the site is an ongoing archaeological study. As per archeologists, there are still things to disclose at this site, meaning you may discover across a new finding when you reach there.
One might never know that what these Peruvian ruins have in store in regards to discovery.
Entry Charges: 55 Sol/US$16 per person
Best Time To Visit: April, May, September, October
5. Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes, Peru
Indeed, no South American ancient ruins visit is complete without giving the opportunity to explore the famous Machu Picchu site.
It is Peru’s most famous site and arguably even in South America. It was built around 1450 but later abandoned one hundred years or so later when the Spanish arrived. It’s one of the best travel destinations when you talk of South American ruins.
The city is still chock full of large-scale man-made structures, including temples and terraces. There is a mixture of residential, official, and religious buildings with garden terraces.
Do not forget about the incredible views looking out at the Peru scenery from the mountainous side.
Entry Charges: 152 Sol/US$45 per person and combined ticket of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Mountain cost – 200 Sol/US$59
Best Time To Visit: April to October
6. San Agustin – Columbia
A different kind of ruins experience is felt at San Agustin’s Archeological park for the travelers. Because this site is the native place to a large collection of ancient statues.
Diverse collections here include ceremonial and burial statues and both humans and animals are depicted. The size of the different statues ranges from eight inches to twenty-three feet.
It was thought that this site was used as a place to worship for neighboring cultures in the nearby river valley.
Entry Charges: The price is around 30.000 COP
Best Time To Visit: December to February
7. Kuelap – Chachapoyas, Peru
Kuelap is located in the North Western region of Peru, enwrapped in a mountainous region. This is a pre-Incan civilization site that has a considerable impressive ruin to discover.
The site is surrounded by large stone walls and has a castle on the edge of the city. Inside the walls, you will find about four hundred different ruins.
The wall famous for the largest stone structure in South America is coated with vines, which gives it a true jungle feeling. From Chachapoyas, the ruins can be reached by bus or car.
Entry Charges: 15 soles (about $4)
Timings: Open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Best Time To Visit: April to December
8. Ingapirca – Ingapirca, Ecuador
Ingapirca in Ecuador is the largest ruins of Incan origin. It was established by the Canari people, which eventually merged with Incans. It’s one of the best travel destinations in South America to discover ruins.
One of the main attractions of this ancient site is the Temple of the Sun, made of elliptic shape. It was made to completely align with the sun during the Solar Solstice.
One of the interesting things about the temple is that it was really made in Incan fashion without mortar to keep the stone together.
Definitely, this list is a tip of the iceberg when it comes to ruins which can be found in South America.
But hopefully, this will be a good starting point that will help you plan your journey to find out what ruins you want to find in which countries.
And yeah out of nowhere, while exploring these ruins sites, you may come across the surprises hidden in the layers of the city along the way!
Entry Charges: $2
Timings: 8 am-5:30 pm
Best Time To Visit: The ideal time to visit is the market day on Sunday morning